Google today revealed more information regarding its soon-to-be-released “Google TV” platform. Among other interesting capabilities, the flexible Linux-based platform for delivering Internet-streamed A/V content to TVs will support thousands of TV-oriented Android apps, turning our TVs into “smart-TVs.”
Google TV was unveiled last May by Google, Intel, Logitech, and Sony. On the surface, its capabilities appear similar to those of the free software available from Boxee and Zinc, both of which have been available for several years.
However, Google TV differs from free downloads like Boxee and Zinc in several key ways:
- You won’t be able to install it on your PC or laptop. Instead, Google TV will only be available as part of a consumer device such as the Logitech Revue (pictured below) and the Sony Internet TV (which looks just like a normal TV). (Note: Boxee will also be available as built-in software on consumer devices such D-Link’s Boxee Box.)
Logitech’s Revue is a dedicated Google TV player
(click image to enlarge)
- Google says it’s been hard at work convincing major content suppliers to make their websites more Google TV friendly, although that’s likely to benefit all A/V streaming platforms equally.
- Google TV combines both conventional TV (typically cable) and Internet-streamed A/V content into a single integrated viewing experience, including a “picture-in-picture” style multi-display (further described below).
- And finally, Google TV is based on a Linux-based Android OS along with the Google Chrome browser. Based on the overnight success of Android on smartphones — in no small part attributable to its thousands of apps — it’s easy to envision a world in which Google TV devices like the Logitech Revue are available from dozens of suppliers at highly competitive prices.
On the other hand, Google’s list of Google TV functions (below) actually doesn’t differ dramatically from what Boxee or Zinc can do on a PC, with the exception of Google TV’s ability to combine both standard TV (cable) and Internet-streamed multimedia within a single, integrated UI. Consequently, D-Link’s Boxee Box can be expected to go head-to-head with Logitech’s Revue, at least until the Android-based Google TV devices pick up steam
Here’s a YouTube demonstrating some of Google TV’s capabilities, followed by a summary of Google TV’s key features and functions:
This summary of Google TV features was adapted from Google’s own description:
- Customizable home screen — provides instantly access to favorite channels, apps, podcasts, and websites.
- Search function — Google TV’s search seamlessly searches content available from TV, the web, and apps, and then accesses it via a single click. Switches between TV and web content without a need to change inputs on the television.
- The web becomes a channel — With Google Chrome and Adobe Flash 10.1, Google TV provides access to “everything on the web,” including favorite videos, photos, games, chatting with friends — “everything … you’re accustomed to doing online.”
- Apps — Google TV will come pre-loaded with apps like Netflix, Twitter, CNBC, Pandora, Napster, NBA Game Time, Amazon Video On Demand and Gallery. Starting early next year, thousands of apps from Android Market will work on Google TV, as well.
- Videos — access over 40,000 shows and movies whenever you want with Netflix or Amazon Video On Demand. Additionally YouTube’s TV-optimized “YouTube Leanback” enables watching videos without ever clicking play — sit back and watch your favorite YouTube content, personally chosen for you, in full screen HD. Create new channels on the fly.
- Smartphone-based remote control — Android phones and iPhones can be used as remote controls for Google TV. Voice can be used for to searching, and multiple phones can control the same TV.
- Fling content from a smartphone to Google TV — You can “Fling” what you’re watching, listening to, or doing on your phone to your TV with the press of a button.
- Watch TV and browse simultaneously — Browse the web or open an app and watch TV on the same screen. Check football stats while watching the game; check Twitter @replies during a TV show; purchase a product after viewing its ad. This function acts like a picture-in-picture mode on a DVR, but with web and TV windows.
- A “DVR for the web” — Create playlists by sending content links to your Google Queue for watching later. Subscribe to favorite websites and video podcasts, add YouTube videos, and more.
- Record from search — Dish Network subscribers using Google TV will have access to enhanced TV and DVR features, including recording programs directly from the search bar and being able to search all recordings at once.
- Music listening — Listen to personal radio stations with Pandora or to any song, any time, with Napster.
- Photo streaming — turn the TV screen into a digital picture frame or gallery, with photos streamed from Picasa, Flickr, and other photo-sharing sites.
- Feature updates — Google TV updates itself automatically over the Internet, providing new features for free.
And that’s not all: “The coolest thing about Google TV is that we don’t even know what the coolest thing about it will be,” says Google. Judging by how fast smartphones evolved into indispensable tools, they’re probably right about that!
First Google TV devices
Logitech launched its Google TV set-top-box, known as the “Revue,” on Oct. 6, 2010. Read our Logitech Revue launch coverage for details.
Sony plans to launch an Internet TV and a Blu-ray player with built-in Google TV support later this month.
For further information on Google TV, visit Google’s Google TV page.